Monday, 15 January 2018

Night of the Mad Kobold

WK0: Night of the Mad Kobold was written by “Weird Dave” Olson. Art is by Timothy Wilsie (cover), Gary Dupuis, and Rick Hershey. Cartography is by “Weird Dave” Olson. The publisher is Cut to the Chase Games.

This is a 0-level funnel, which is the first adventure in the "Wrath of the Kobolds" series of adventures. Like other adventures by Cut to the Chase Games, Night of the Mad Kobold was written for multiple game engines, including Savage Worlds, Pathfinder, Swords & Wizardry, and 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. I believe that this was the first release from the Cut to the Chase Fantasy Renaissance Adventure Module Kickstarter.

When presenting an adventure in multiple system formats, one has to take care to avoid making one system clearly superior to the others. This is not unique to this adventure or this product; for example, I believe this was an issue with Maiden Voyage of the Colossus from Purple Duck Games.

The upshot of this is that there is none of the strangeness one comes to expect from a Dungeon Crawl Classics adventure. These really are the monsters you know! Worse, the adventure centers around the gnomes of Cresthill without providing any means to generate gnome PCs! The adventure further postulates that kobolds are able to travel around the town without any real difficulty, which seems strange for a settlement with a large population of gnomes and humans. This is further exacerbated by sections of the text referring to gnome PCs I.e., "Bren Kapesh gives up what he knows to any strong voice (or a pretty face) if there is not a gnome in the party."

There are other indications that the writer simply doesn't "get" Dungeon Crawl Classics at this point. The Guard asks the PCs to take care of this problem because...well, obviously a bunch of gongfarmers and chicken butchers need to save the day. Every 0-level funnel needs a call to action that makes regular people either rise to the level of adventurer, or fall crushed beneath the tide of events. This one simply doesn't pass the muster - especially since the NPC quest giver has probably already given the PCs the brush off.

Other problems include mention of "Characters proficient in Nature" and "a small pouch of precious gems worth 100 gold as a modest way of saying thanks".

Oh, and statistics are not given in the text proper, but only at the end of the adventure. When dealing with the long statblocks of some versions of Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder, this is understandable. With Dungeon Crawl Classics, I just find this annoying. There is nothing wrong with having an appendix of compiled statistics. They should also appear in the adventure as needed, though, in my opinion.

None of these problems is insurmountable, and the main plotline of the adventure should provide interesting opportunities for play. Here are my recommended fixes:

  • Run it as a 1st level adventure. The PCs have just appeared in Cresthill, and at least they look tough enough for the Guard to approach them for help.
  • There is no guard. There is only the Watch, and the Watch is comprised of citizens. The PCs are those citizens. Various livestock and trade goods may be left at home, depending.
  • Gnomes can be generated using the gnome class by Yves Larochelle in Crawl Fanzine #6.
  • If you are not planning on running the entirety of Wrath of the Kobolds, consider making the villains human. Among other effects, this will make the theme of racism stronger - it is more than the generic animosity between gnomes and kobolds!
  • Rinklo is described as "a scrappy, tough opponent", but has AC 13 and 6 hp "each". You may wish to adjust this upward.

It is always enjoyable to hear how another judge approaches gaming material, and the "Weird Dave’s Notebook" sections are therefore appreciated. So too is the rather unique adventure set-up...I cannot say that I've run into a fantasy role-playing game scenario about a mad bomber before. The adventure is creative; it just needs some help to make it feel like DCC.

The town of Cresthill enjoys a favorable location along the winding Graywand River. Trade is good, and the prominent gnomes of House Kelver run most of the businesses to the prosperity of the people. Now, however, a dangerous lunatic—a kobold from the nearby Talon Hills—has decided the gnomes of House Kelver need to be a taught a fiery lesson, and only a band of heroes can stop his plot.

Get It Here!

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

New Year's Evil

Dungeon Crawl Classics 2017 Holiday Module: Xcrawl: New Year's Evil is a 2nd level DCC Xcrawl adventure written by Brendan LaSalle with art by Stefan Poag (including cover and cartography), Chris Arneson, and Cliff Kurowski. The publisher is Goodman Games. Additional Material was provided by George “Loki” Williams and Dr. Lori M. King. This adventure is dedicated to Joseph Leonard Auditore (January 17, 1981 - September 26, 2017).

Free pregenerated characters for this adventure are available as a pdf here.

As a resident of Toronto, it was nice to see an Xcrawl adventure set here, although the author declined to come north to run it (the New Year's of its release, at least!). While the city hosting the Extreme Dungeon Crawl event can affect the flavor of a particular outing, there is nothing particular to Toronto (or Canada) in this particular adventure. There are no animated golems shaped like the CN Tower or the SkyDome to bedevil the PCs. Of course, Canada is part of the North American Empire in the Xcrawl universe, and there is a Duke of Toronto.

I am not going to spoil the surprises of this scenario, save to say that the machinations of the Greco-Roman gods worshiped by the North American Empire come into play in a relatively big way.

In his non-Xcrawl DCC work, Brendan LaSalle seems to favor an epic scope where Big Things Happen. This is easy to see in adventures like Hole in the Sky and Neon Knights. It would seem that the Xcrawl universe is Brendan LaSalle working on a smaller scale, but, while the dungeons are limited in scope, the setting is not. The idea that the gods work through their champions, even in the world of live death sports, is an interesting one. The notes on how the party is feted by notables makes them major players in their world, even if the focus of play is on the "athletic competition" itself.

One nice thing in this adventure is a section entitled "Xcrawl in Flux": "Xcrawl Classics is coming! The final version will be a full, stand-alone game using DCC RPG mechanics, with new classes, spells, rules, and excitement! In the meantime, here are some new rules to enhance your game. Note that these are in flux, and as playtesting continues some of these might change when the final version of the game comes out."

Current rules for the Mojo Pool, Grandstanding, and Fame are provided. These are rules I asked for when doing a conversion of Xcrawl: Dungeonbattle Brooklyn to Dungeon Crawl Classics. Mojo has become a little more complicated than the simplified conversion of Dungeonbattle Brooklyn, and seems to owe something to the Fleeting Luck mechanics of DCC Lankhmar! It is perhaps notable that Michael Curtis, among others, receives special thanks in the credits.

Get ready for Xcrawl, the live-on-pay-per-view death sport RPG, now powered by the unstoppably old-school Dungeon Crawl Classics rules! And this holiday season, Xcrawl is breaking open a bottle of over-the-top dungeon crawl insanity, and serving it up for some New Year’s Evil!

Strange things are afoot in Toronto! The spirit of the New Year is driving the Gods to drink, whipping the fans into a frenzy, and inspiring the staff to start the party before the team even makes it to the green room! Can a low-level squad, faced with shady jousters, wet jesters, hell pugs, and cubical zombies – not to mention poetry, puzzles, and traps galore – survive to ring in the New Year? And will the sponsors still pick up the tab now that the dungeon has gone mad?

Start the countdown! Nunc est bacchandum atque Xcrawl ludendum!

Get It Here!

Friday, 5 January 2018

Neon Knights

DCC #94: Neon Knights, is a 3rd level adventure written by Brendan LaSalle with art by Doug Kovacs (including cover and cartography), Friedrich Haas, Cliff Kurowski, William McAusland, and Chad Sergesketter. The Publisher is Goodman Games. This book is dedicated to Paul Suda, an actor and writer working on the Xcrawl movie currently in development.

Disclosure: I have a playtest credit on this product. Also, the author sent me a signed copy.

I was lucky enough to meet Brendan LaSalle at Nexus Game Fair in 2016. This was not actually an accident, because I decided to see what conventions I might be able to attend during a trip to Wisconsin to visit family members. I was, quite specifically, looking for somewhere I could get into a DCC game, and I recognized Brendan LaSalle from his work with Goodman Games. In fact, by that time I had appeared in the DCC RPG/Xcrawl Free RPG Day 2013 offering from Goodman Games with him, and converted two of his Xcrawl adventures to DCC mechanics: Dungeonbattle Brooklyn and BostonCrawl!

The upshot of this was that, not only did I get to be a playtester for Neon Knights, but I got to generally pal around with one of the most generous, outgoing, and gonzo judges I have ever met.

Neon Knights is, of course, inspired by Black Sabbath, as is Hole in the Sky. As written, Neon Knights links directly to the Purple Planet from Peril on the Purple Planet, but this connection can easily be altered by the judge to allow the adventure to bring the PCs elsewhere.

Brendan LaSalle's DCC work is a sort of an energetic high fantasy extravaganza. I don't mean high fantasy as being Tolkien-esque, but rather dealing with epic themes that cross the planes of existence. Although Michael Moorcock is not a direct influence to this adventure (in any way that I can tell), those who like Moorcock's work are likely to find resonance here.

Ten thousand flawless killers surround the city. Utterly silent in battle and in death, they seem unconquerable. They mean to choke the life out of the age-old city and leave it an empty ruin. 

The city calls upon its heroes to defeat this unnatural menace. The heroes gather to ponder the question: how do you defeat an impregnable foe? 

And then a wizard from a far-off world whisks the heroes away to fight battle of a very different sort, leaving them with a strange neon pink glow around their eyes…

Get It Here!

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Nebin Pendlebrook's Perilous Pantry

Nebin Pendlebrook's Perilous Pantry is a zero-level funnel by Mark Bishop. Art is by Mark Bishop (including cartography) and Jon Marr. The publisher is Purple Sorcerer Games.

Disclosure: I am not related in any way to Mark Bishop that I know of.

What can I say about this product? It is a real gem of a funnel, which can be played with a lighthearted style that makes it suitable for even young players. It need not be played that way, though, and there are encounters within that can be described as horrific, grisly, or as existential dark comedy if the judge and players desire.

My absolute favorite encounter occurs right at the beginning, setting a tone that can be both grim and absurd as soon as the first door is opened. I wish I had written this one!

When I ran this adventure for my home crew, the result was nearly a TPK, as the players were afraid to release the potential spare PCs they encountered. This is not a fault of the way the adventure is set is more likely bad memories of The Arwich Grinder.

I have no desire to spoil any part of this adventure for anyone. For those of you looking for potential convention-slot funnels, this will fit the bill. It can easily be played in a four-hour time slot.

The tiny village of Bitterweed Barrow is unaccustomed to mysterious tunnels, missing halflings, or the need for brave adventurers, but now it has all three! Can a band of gong-farmers and shoe-cobblers muster the courage to descend into the darkness and confront the terror that waits beyond Nebin Pendlebrook’s unexpectedly perilous pantry?

Get It Here!

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

The Nazhghad

The Nazhghad was written by Paul Wolfe. Illustration is by Chorazin3d. The publisher is Mystic Bull Games.

The Nazhghad was provided by Mystic Bull Games' Patron Monday feature. This is a full patron write-up, including two 3rd level patron spells (as opposed to the normal one each of 1sr, 2nd, and 3rd level).

The Nazghad was featured in The Nazhghad's Invocation in In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer. This patron is also included in Angels, Daemons, & Beings Between: Expanded, Otherworldly Edition. On his blog post, Paul Wolfe cites Aliens and Prometheus as inspirations.

On the banks of the eastern branch of the River Rgene, the mounds of the jeh, insect-men of alien intelligence and ingenuity, reach hundreds of feet into the sky. These mud and paper cities rival those of the greatest human kings and thousands of jeh build them ever higher.

The murmurings of the Nazhghad drive the jeh priest-kings to build and harvest and conquer, but the entity itself is an enigma. Said to lurk beneath the Thousand Foot Spire, a jeh mound that scrapes the tropical sky, escaped slaves speak of the power of the entity -- that its low buzzing “voice” pervades jeh colonies. Some murmur that other slaves, those specially chosen by the priest-kings, have entered into the entity’s service and left the colonies, presumably as agents in other regions of the Piretis that the jeh and their god covet.

Get It Here!

DCC RPG Quick Start Rules (Portuguese)

The Portuguese version of the DCC RPG Quick Start Rules & Intro Adventure includes Salada de Ratos (Rat Salad), a 0-level funnel adventure written and illustrated by Diogo Nogueira. The Portuguese version is a joint venture by Goodman Games and New Order.

As with Caveira Velha, I am using a scanner and Google Translate to slowly build up an English-language version of this adventure. When I can provide reasonable coverage of the product, I will do so.

Mutant Crawl Classics Character & Creature Codex

Mutant Crawl Classics Character & Creature Codex is published by Goodman Games.

This product is "A booklet of character sheets for all classes, plus worksheets for mutated creatures, NPCs, and artificial intelligences". There are also notes on devising villainous NPCs, creating mutant creatures, and importing monsters from Dungeon Crawl Classics or other systems. Tables 1-1 (Ability Score Modifiers), 6-2 (Artificial Intelligences By Type), 3-2 (Mutations) and 3-3 (Mega Mutations) are also reproduced from the Mutant Crawl Classics core rules.

This product was part of the final stretch goal of the successful Mutant Crawl Classics kickstarter.

World-building is one of the great joys of role playing games, and that's exactly what this booklet is designed to help you do. For what good is a post-apocalyptic world without masses of murderous mutants, craven creatures, or insane AIs?

Filled with character sheets for every level and class, plus worksheets for your own custom monsters, NPCs, and artificial intellegences (all suitable for photocopying), consider this a guide book to creating your own unique sentients, savages, mutants, and monsters for the Terra A.D. setting of Mutant Crawl Classics!

I will provide a purchase link when one becomes available.